Foreign missions complain of slow deportation work

Foreign missions complain of slow deportation work
Updated 20 May 2013

Foreign missions complain of slow deportation work

Foreign missions complain of slow deportation work

Foreign consulates expressed disappointment yesterday at the pace at which immigration authorities at the deportation center process exit visas of workers who want to return home before the end of the grace period. The immigration department in Jeddah has been processing final-exit applications on a country-wise basis since Saturday.
On Saturday, the passports of workers from the Philippines and Bangladesh were processed, while yesterday, expatriates from Sudan and Egypt got an opportunity to present their cases for repatriation.
Today, Sri Lankan and Pakistani workers have been asked to come and present their passports for final exit. A diplomat from an Asian country complained that there are some 50,000 workers from the Western Province who want to make use of the grace period but expressed doubt that deportation authorities would be able to accommodate the huge numbers seeking final exit at this rate.
Arab News learned that only 150 to 200 exit passports are processed a day at the deportation (tarheel) counters. “There are four counters and they are open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.,” a senior diplomat said, and added that at this rate only 1,000 passports can be processed a week.
The missions were told that deportation counters are understaffed. Authorities have told officials at foreign missions that they are awaiting official guidelines from higher authorities to handle the huge numbers of people seeking amnesty.
The government has granted amnesty for illegal workers until July 3. The Labor Ministry has announced that illegal expatriates would face a penalty of SR 100,000 and a jail term of two years after that date.
A labor welfare officer said that during the amnesty period of 1997, authorities in Jeddah had set up several ad hoc counters to meet the rush of applicants. “Authorities should make similar arrangements this time," he stressed.
In Riyadh, missions were content with the performance of deportation authorities who have been working from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to issue final-exit stamps for the workers.
The deputy chief of mission at the Indian Embassy, Sibi George, said he had kept two of his officers at deportation counters to monitor the efficiency with which final-exit stamps are issued. “So far, we have not received any complaints from people, which means there has been a smooth flow of work at the center,” he added. Anura Muthumala, labor counselor at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh, endorsed that statement, adding, however, that the mission received complaints that authorities in Dammam are issuing outpasses to a limited number of people.